Get free help with insurance sign-up


(Posted Dec. 2, 2015)

By Christine Bryant, Staff Writer

Navigating the Health Insurance Marketplace can be a difficult challenge for those seeking health insurance.

Counselors at Rocking Horse Center in London are assisting individuals as they navigate the complexities of signing up for or renewing coverage for 2016. The free program, through the community health center, is available not only to patients, but to all residents in Madison County.

Since the Affordable Care Act was put in place, certified application counselors and navigators have been assisting individuals with enrolling in health coverage options. A close-to-home option has helped more residents connect with counselors who can help answer their questions.

“Just since the Madison access point has been open, just under two months, I have assisted many people in submitting and enrolling in applications,” said Jessica Doggett, a certified application counselor at Rocking Horse Center, 212 N. Main St., London.

Doggett does not advise applicants on which plan to buy, but instead helps them learn about their options. She is available from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays and from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays.

“I am flexible with my hours to be able to assist individuals with schedules outside of business hours,” she added. “I’m able to discuss enrollment options, as well as help in the online enrollment processes on site.”

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) is a set of health insurance reforms that began in 2010. Under the new law, all citizens are required to have health care coverage. The 2016 open enrollment for Marketplace Insurance is under way and lasts until Jan. 31, 2016.

Some key points with the ACA that residents should know, Doggett says, include: if an individual has a pre-existing condition, an insurance company cannot increase rates or deny an individual for coverage, and children can be on their parents’ insurance plans until at least age 26. In some cases, in the state of Ohio, children can remain on the plans until age 28.

“The Marketplace Exchange offers discounted rates to individuals who are within certain income brackets to help lower costs for affordable coverage,” Doggett said. “There are many more nuances to the ACA, but those are the ones that many people do not know about.”

Anyone seeking health care coverage should be aware of the following deadlines, she said:

  • Dec. 15, 2015: Last day to enroll in or change plans for new coverage to start Jan. 1, 2016.
  • Jan. 15, 2016: Last day to enroll in or change plans for new coverage to start Feb. 1, 2016.
  • Jan. 31, 2016: 2016 open enrollment ends. Enrollments or changes between Jan. 16 and Jan. 31 take effect March 1, 2016.

There is no deadline or enrollment dates to sign up for Medicaid, Doggett said. Medicaid is open to individuals or families to apply year-round who are 65 years old and younger.

“Medicaid provides free or low-cost health coverage to millions of Americans, including some low-income people, families and children, pregnant women, the elderly and people with disabilities,” she said. “Medicaid has expanded eligibility guidelines in Ohio and more individuals are now able to qualify for health coverage.”

Adults between 19 and 64 who are within 138 percent of the Federal Poverty Level may qualify for Medicaid. Pregnant women who are within 205 percent of the Federal Poverty Level and uninsured children up to 19 years old who are in a household within 211 percent of the level may also be considered for Medicaid coverage, Doggett said.

In addition to Doggett, Rocking Horse offers the ser-vices of an insurance navigator twice a week through the Ohio Association of Free Clinics.

Go to or call (740) 845-7286 for more information.

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